Learning Beyond Borders
“Agriculture is tasked with feeding a growing population worldwide,” says Chris Cornelius. “As the world feels smaller, we depend on each other across borders and continents.”
Cornelius (’83 agricultural journalism) has seen the changing face of agriculture first-hand; she and her husband, Chuck (’83 agronomy), are the fourth generation to run Cornelius Seed in Bellevue, Iowa.
Fortunately, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has long emphasized the important role of global learning— whether students plan to return to the family farm or help feed developing communities halfway around the world. The college is known for one of the strongest international programs at any university.
“Seeing processes and the culture of a country can be life-changing, not only for the students, but for the people they work with,” says Cornelius. To facilitate the development of new study abroad initiatives, the couple established the Charles and Christine Cornelius Global Endowment for Faculty Support.
“Faculty need to travel to conduct site visits to plan safe and successful study abroad programs, especially in developing countries,” says Julie Blanchong, associate professor in the department of natural resource ecology and management.
An interest in education and international study runs in the Cornelius family.
Chuck’s sister, Julie (’88 agricultural business) Jacobi, and her husband, Jay (’89 agricultural business), created the Jay and Julie Cornelius Jacobi Scholarship for Agricultural Study Abroad, which has been awarded to more than 30 students.
“We didn’t get to study abroad as undergraduates, but we’ve come to appreciate the value of international experiences,” says Julie. “We hope our recipients will one day have the desire and ability to help future students.”
“The Jacobi Scholarship allowed me to study in Antarctica, where I observed penguins, seals, whales and birds in their natural habitats,” says recipient Taylor Berkshire, a senior in agronomy. “I learned about the impact our actions, even in Iowa, have on that environment. I am still in complete awe that I had this opportunity, which would not have been possible without the Jacobis’ support.”
While the majority of incoming students express an interest in studying abroad, only 25 percent do so—mainly due to the expense. By raising funds for global scholarships, faculty support and programs during the Forever True campaign, the college has a goal to increase the participation rate to 50 percent.
“Opportunities for students abound in the global agriculture sector,” says Cornelius. “It will be a great outcome if we can build on the college’s strengths, and educate even more leaders ready to help solve the challenges our world will face.”